The Retiring Room: A Soothing, Sensory Adventure

Stephen Dobbie and Colin Nightingale of A Right/Left Project brought their expertise and creativity to The Standard, London—transforming one unassuming Cosy Core into an unexpected multi-sensory experience. We sat down with the minds behind the operation to discuss their auditory vision.
Can you describe The Retiring Room in five words? 

Relaxing deep-listening sound installation.

What was the inspiration for The Retiring Room at The Standard, London? 

Over recent years, we have been specialising in projects that incorporate 360 sound design with the aim of re-contextualising how people experience music.  Many of these projects have involved deconstructing and rebuilding existing music over three-dimensional spaces but in summer 2022 we began a collaboration with the lighting designer Ben Donoghue and the award-winning musician and composer Toby Young to explore what it means to, from the outset, compose a piece of music that would be experienced spatially.  Whilst developing the composition we approached The Standard, London who very generously offered us one of their hotel rooms for a week in November 2022 to continue to experiment. We were really happy with what we were able to create and, with the team at the hotel, began to explore a way to share the experience with the hotel guests.

The name of the project is inspired by the short-stay beds available to rent to take a break on a long journey through the Indian Railway system. This, in turn, is a nod towards the golden age of rail travel that inspired some of the interior design at The Standard, London due to its close proximity to Kings Cross Station.

Can you describe the room and the process of accessing it a bit? 

The project takes place in one of the iconic Cosy Core rooms at The Standard, London. Guests book a time slot and then report to the front desk. They are given a key card and some simple instructions. On entering the low-lit room, the guest is encouraged to take off their shoes and relax.  A warm soothing voice then invites them to lay on the bed, rest their eyes and see where the music will take them as the sound slowly evolves around the room. 

What do you both think of wellness fads like sound baths? Are they rooted in something more lasting/historically grounded or a response to the new stresses of modern culture?

Hearing develops in the womb during the first half of a pregnancy and music has always been a key part of the human experience for thousands of years.  In the current digital age, recorded music might be more accessible than ever before but hectic lifestyles might mean that the listening experience has become more temporary and disposable and so it seems only natural to us that there is now a movement to provide spaces and encourage people to have a deeper listening experience.

How do you want people to feel at the end of their Retiring Room experience? 

The Retiring Room is primarily a sound installation with our intention purposely left quite ambiguous. Any reaction to the experience is valid but we would hope that the majority of guests feel like it gave them a chance to feel calm, to reflect and leave feeling recharged. 

A Right/Left Project

Stephen Dobbie and Colin Nightingale specialise in creating multi-sensory art projects with a strong emphasis on audio led experiences. In collaboration with James Lavelle/UNKLE, they created the acclaimed Beyond The Road, a walk through album/sound and visual art installation that has been experienced by nearly 100,000 people at its runs at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2019 and at the Alt 1 Gallery at The Hyundai Seoul in 2021.

They are also both creative associates of Punchdrunk. They have been involved with the theatre company since 2002 and most recently on The Burnt City which opened in London Spring 2022.

Stephen recently composed the sound for Forever - Valentino exhibition which opened in October 2022 at M7 in Doha. 

Toby Young

Toby is a composer and music producer from London, working at the cutting edge of contemporary classical music. He has won numerous awards and was twice winner of the BBC Young Composer of the Year (206/2009). Toby’s output includes collaborations with the Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, Chase & Status, Punchdrunk, the

Royal Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra, Ellie Goulding, Snow Ghosts, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ben Donoghue

Ben is a Lighting Designer and Creative Director for live music and performance. Ben joined Flare Lighting in 2019 following several years at global creative agency Imagination. Flare is a multi-disciplinary creative design studio specialising in lighting for music, performance and live events. Recently Ben has been creating live designs for artists such as Central Cee, Mahalia, Hot Chip and Ezra Collective, as well as working with Right/Left Projects to create Beyond The Road in London and Seoul.


L-Acoustics is renowned for developing innovative sound systems and technologies that elevate the listening experience. Founded in France in 1984, L-Acoustics currently employs 500 team members worldwide, with headquarters in Paris, London, Los Angeles, and Singapore. Recognized for pioneering the line source array, L-Acoustics continues to shape the future of sound with solutions such as L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology, offering multi-dimensional audio. In recognition of introducing ground-breaking creative technologies, L-Acoustics was named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies of 2020.

L-Acoustics sound systems can be heard around the globe in venues like the Hollywood Bowl and the Philharmonie de Paris, at the world's top-grossing festivals such as Coachella and Tomorrowland, and on tour with world-class artists such as Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Foo Fighters, and Jacky Cheung.


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